Sexuality Policy Watch

Letter: trans candidates for UN Independent Expert on SOGI rights

Trans organisations signing this letter, and the activist networks they represent, celebrate the Resolution [on Protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity] passed on 30 June 2016 at the UN Human Rights Council.[1] We consider the appointment of an Independent Expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) issues is a necessary step in ensuring the full enjoyment of human rights for LGBTI, and in particular trans, people.

To realise the full potential of the resolution, trans human rights defenders from all around the world will have a key and critical role to play to ensure and demand that the International Expert appointment makes positive and meaningful impacts for our communities.

We note that there are persistent technical and political challenges that often hamper the full and equal inclusion of gender identity issues in human rights work and persistently fuel exclusion of trans people from decision-making positions.

Applications from trans people for the position of Independent Expert on SOGI issues are vital to address the structural barriers trans persons often face and to ensure an adequate level of expertise on gender identity issues within this role and other UN mechanisms. This is essential to break the long and harmful practice of excluding trans people’s knowledge, skills and lived experience.

We are aware of and fully endorse the following candidates for the Independent Expert position:

Julia Ehrt, PhD in Mathematics of the Free University Berlin, Germany, Executive Director of Transgender Europe

Mauro Cabral Grinspan, Licentiate in History, National University of Cordoba, Co-Director of Global Action for Trans* Equality

Further details about each candidate are contained in their short biographies below.

The proposed candidates reflect not only trans activists’ strong expertise on SOGI and human rights issues, but also the diversity of our communities and movements and our shared commitment to collective processes and collaborative initiatives. Therefore, as trans-led organisations working on gender identity human rights issues internationally and regionally, we endorse both candidates. Moving forward, we will be asking trans activists, organisations and networks, and allies worldwide to work with us to ensure an Independent Expert’s mandate that is fully committed to gender identity issues.


JoAnne Keatley, on behalf of the International Trans Reference Group on HIV and AIDS (ITRG)

Masen Davis, on behalf of Global Action for Trans* Equality (GATE)

Amets Suess, on behalf of STP, International Campaign Stop Trans Pathologization

Mikee Inton, on behalf of the ILGA Trans Secretariat

Joe Wong, on behalf of the Asia Pacific Transgender Network (APTN)

Joleen Mataele, on behalf of the Pacific Sexual Diversity Network (PSDN)

Leigh Ann van der Merwe, on behalf of the Social, Health and Empowerment Feminist Collective of Transgender Women of Africa (SHE)

Jabulani Chan Pereira, on behalf of Iranti-Org, South Africa

Arja Voipio, on behalf of Transgender Europe (TGEU)

Sanjar Kurmanov, on behalf of Labrys Kyrgyzstan

Short bios of candidates

Julia Ehrt is the current Executive Director of Transgender Europe. In more than a decade of international trans activism, Julia has been central to TGEU’s growth, both as co-founder, member of TGEU’s Steering Committee and Board (2005-2011), and now as Executive Director. She is widely respected as a trans leader in Europe and contributed significantly to how trans issues are perceived and debated today in Europe and beyond. She has been supervising TGEU’s “Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide” project since its beginning in 2009. The project pioneers research on the legal and social situation of trans and gender diverse persons across the globe and comprises the most comprehensive research data on the matter to date.

Julia holds a PhD in mathematics from the Free University Berlin and lives with her partner and child in Berlin.

Mauro Cabral Grinspan serves as the Co-Director of Global Action for Trans* Equality (GATE). He has been involved in activism on trans, intersex and bodily issues since 2005. In 2006 he participated in the production of the Yogyakarta Principles and in 2009 edited the book Interdicciones. Escrituras de la Intersexualidad en Castellano. Since 2011 he has coordinated the GATE Initiative on the Reform of the International Classification of Diseases. He participated in actions that led to the approval of the groundbreaking Argentinian Gender Identity Law in 2012. Mauro has contributed to different international processes, including the WHO report on Sexual Health, Human Rights and the Law. In 2015 he received the Bob Hepple Equality Award.

Mauro is Licentiate in History by the National University of Cordoba and lives with his partner and their two dogs in Buenos Aires.

[1] A/HRC/RES/32/2, available online at:

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